What’s going on 

Marine protected areas are dedicated spaces where a government has restricted human activities for the purpose of conservation. Restrictions range from fishing or shell collection bans to total inaccessibility to the general public. There are 41 MPAs in the state of Florida and approximately 1,000 of them in the US. 

In Florida, many MPAs prevent the overfishing of economically important species and the conservation of the Florida Coral Reef Tract. They also help to protect coastlines and prevent water pollution.  

Why it matters 

  • MPAs have been shown to improve biodiversity, improve water quality, and rebuild fish populations. Some MPAs are also used for important environmental research. 
  • Creating more MPAs is even more important as the effects of climate change intensify and ocean ecosystems suffer additional stress. Many marine areas contain habitats such as salt marshes and mangroves that capture and store large amounts of carbon, this is known as “blue carbon.” 

What you can do  

  • Volunteer in local beach clean-ups 
  • Spread the word about MPAs in your area using social media  
  • Use less plastic by using reusable water bottles and buy products with less packaging  
  • Use less fertilizer 
  • Educate you and those around you about Marine Protected Areas 

Information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Geographic.